[May I, dear lady, briefly speak to you]

May I, dear lady, briefly speak to you:

What past twix’t us I afterwards did view,

I look’d it over ere I went to sleep,

You may depend I shall your Counsel keep.

You tell me, madam, how you are oppress’d,

What anxious tho’ts do harbour in your breast,

How they do dayly interupt your peace,

Distract your mind and doth your grief Increase.

If you your trouble don’t too much conceal

But to some faithfull friend the same reveal;

You’ll find it will alleviate your grief

And in some measure it will yield relief.

We’ve all such base deceitfull hearts indeed,

We of divine assistance stand in need;

Alas there’s nature in the best alive,

And that’s the reason grace no more do thrive.

But let’s endevour then with all our might

Against corrupted nature still to fight.

All seeming youthfull pleasures let us fly,

And earnestly to God for strength let’s cry,

Casting our care on him for he knows best

What is our grief and why we are oppress’d.

He doth our weakness and our failings know,

And when he pleases his mercy he will shew;

Then let us to our dear redeemer cleave,

Let us the ways of sin forever leave,

If we unto the world be crucified,

Redeeming love will all our failings hide;

Then let us cry to God both night and day

That Satan may’nt in us his scepter sway.

Christ won’t forsake us if we are sincere;

Therefore with speed let’s to his ways adhere.

’Tis the best way, I am well satisfied,

’Tis an Experiment I’ve often tryed,

And you the same no doubt do understand,

I am your humble servant to command.


August 6 1717

Text: Steele Collection, 2/2/1; see also Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 8, pp. 24-25.